People using the two main parking lots off Comox Logging Road beside Stotan Falls will have noticed a new look. BC Hydro crews have installed sections of wooden fencing and safety signage to advise the public that Hydro’s river warning sirens have been turned off at night.
“We have sirens that activate from Comox Dam down to Puntledge Park when there’s a sudden change in Puntledge River flows,” BC Hydro spokesperson Stephen Watson said. “At night, we have the strobe lights initiating versus the sirens to provide that public warning, but there are no strobe lights at Stotan Falls because of the geography. So in providing suitable public warning, the sirens at this one location have been activating as needed 24/7. Last spring, when we were releasing water at night, this was causing some issues for nearby residents. We try to ramp up river flows at night for public safety.”
BC Hydro then began to look at solutions that could prevent the Stotan Falls sirens from operating at night, yet maintain public safety. The solution came through an agreement with TimberWest, which owns the road right-of-way, and with property owner 3L Developments Inc. This enabled BC Hydro to install sections of fencing and signage at the pedestrian openings, as there are no gates. The warning signage will be noticeable in advising people that the sirens do not activate at night and that flows can change without warning.
“This combination of fencing and signage will continue to provide the public with notice, and at the same time, not have a siren initiate at 1 a.m. and disturb people,” said Watson. “We think we’ve found that correct balance of community interests and public safety. Special thanks to TimberWest and 3L Developments for assisting us on this issue.”
With the fence installed, warning sirens at Stotan Falls are now deactivated at night. While the sirens can activate during the day, night-time siren deactivation timing is re-programmed at the beginning of each of the four seasons to follow the shorter daylight days, such as now, or the longer days in the summer. BC Hydro installed the updated public warning system in 2017/18. An identical sounding siren warning system is being installed at the John Hart facility on the Campbell River system.